Street Fighter V Beta 4 went live for beta participants on PS4 and PC at the end of January. This is the final beta to be released before the game’s release in mid-February, and with the previous beta unlocking all but one of the (pre-DLC) characters for people to play, there was a lot of speculation regarding the kind of content that would be present in Street Fighter V Beta 4. As it turns out, if you played the third beta during the final phase of the test you would have had a good idea of what to expect here – all but one of the characters (Fang) is unlocked to play, you can practice against a training dummy, and you can let the game find online opponents whilst you train. Consequently, the following isn’t really going to reveal any new character or feature information, but instead offer some opinions on a few of the matches that occurred over the weekend and extra details on move and character properties.
Street Fighter V Beta 4 Day 1 – Headbutts!
Before you can even get to the main menu of Street Fighter V Beta 4 you’re faced with a series of slides explaining the new beta features – most notably, an improved Fight Request setting that lets you specify certain conditions for match requests when the game is searching for opponents (e.g. if you only want to play opponents in player matches and not ranked matches, or if you want to filter out people with bad connections.) With no sign of Fang and no extra modes to try out, I set up my fight requests and waited for my first match. It was my Rashid taking on an opponent’s Ryu, and they started the match strongly; blocking my obvious setups and capitalising on my move recovery to take the first round. Even so, with some nice manoeuvring and pressure I won a round back. I couldn’t tell you how the match ended as I received a “connection lost” error after the 2nd round KO – but we’ll never know if that was Street Fighter V Beta 4 being flaky or the opponent quitting early.
In between matches I picked up a few things during training. For one thing, I haven’t been using Rashid’s command roll (press both medium attacks whilst crouched) nearly as much as I should – it passes through projectiles and could be useful for closing distance without jumping forward into a dragon punch, for instance. Another technique I picked up involves Zangief. I never really mentioned the Head Butt unique attack before (move forward and use the heavy punch – or “fierce” – attack) but it stops projectiles almost like a parry. The interesting thing about this move is that you can execute it fairly soon and still stop an attack, because the hitbox stays active for longer than you might think. Meanwhile, if you try and do the move just before a projectile hits, the startup of the attack’s animation is just long enough for you to take a hit, so it’s less about activating the move at the last moment and more about activating the move at the right moment. That said, the Iron Muscle V.Skill (a temporary stance that absorbs one hit) is a much “safer” option for stopping attacks than the Head Butt, so you could just use that instead.
The majority of the first evening was just spent testing my Rashid against other players online; with no new characters or gameplay modes available there wasn’t a whole lot of extra content to explore, but the matches were still quite fun.
Street Fighter V Beta 4 Day 2 – Bogeys!
One interesting thing about picking up a new fighting game is that it can be like opening up a toybox – each character does different things and these affect opponents in different ways depending on different conditions. On day two of Street Fighter V Beta 4 I was able to try out two or three things I had been thinking about. For instance, Rashid’s V-Trigger sends a pillar of wind towards the player, damaging them if they touch it without blocking. However, Rashid is also very manoeuvrable and can backflip over an opponent’s head and land on the other side. Since characters in Street Fighter automatically turn to face one another, this allows for an interesting pressure game where you can place the pillar in front of an opponent and backflip to land behind them. I believe that players are safe to an extent if they continually block, but I still won a round with the setup, so who knows.
Another test was less technical. Playing as Birdie, you can leave him in his idle pose and he’ll eventually pick his nose and flick a bogey at the opposing character. However, this bogey counts as a hit and deals 12 points of damage. It can be blocked, but why do that when Ryu’s V-Skill allows him to parry attacks and stop some projectiles? A new challenge was created and I aimed to complete this challenge before Street Fighter V Beta 4 was over.
Unless the bogey is a pixel, it’s impossible to see onscreen – the only clue about its location comes from the time it takes before it hits an opponent. A few failed attempts were eventually followed by a successful parry from Ryu, so if a Birdie player is ever trying to finish you off in humiliating fashion, you can still parry it away. Yes.
Street Fighter V Beta 4 Day 3 – Milestones!
Despite being somewhat shy about playing against the online masses on day 2, I still had some fun back and forths where my Rashid play saw me cross the 1000 LP (league points) threshold. It’ll be interesting to see how the economy of fight money (earned in fights to buy in-game content), EXP (reflecting your experience with a particular character) and league points (general experience for the player) works in the final game – right now league points are the only thing that can be deducted from online losses from the very start, so they feel like the main measure of skill.
During day three of Street Fighter V Beta 4 I had more online match fun – including one game with a Cammy player who had tons of patience and would punish each of my mistakes without fail. Cammy has such good range with the Spiral Arrow and decent manoeuvrability with Cannon Spikes that it’s hard to find a good angle to approach her from. Meanwhile, a more patient game against a Zangief player went in my favour, and was closed out with a V-Trigger pillar of wind that Zangief walked right into with a running grab move that can’t be cancelled once it’s activated.
If one big positive can be taken from Street Fighter V Beta 4, it’s that the fight request mode gets results early and often. Admittedly, the current beta didn’t let me disable fight requests on the previous day (presumably as they were keen to get data on the online matches) but I rarely had to wait long to find an opponent. In comparison, some participants of the first beta found it near-impossible to initiate a match with another human opponent online, and so players were left messing around in training without ever having any real opposition to test themselves against.
It’s impossible to say whether SFV will have as much of a long-term impact on fighting games as SFIV did, but the past few days of Street Fighter V Beta 4 have been very promising. There are still features missing or disabled in the beta that I hope to eventually see in the full game (particularly online lobbies) – however, with the game launching in mid-February, we won’t have to wait long to find out.